Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nostalgia and hope

I have a nice CD with old recordings of Christmas songs by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, that my wife and I are willingly listening to these days.

What do I want to say with this.

There is a funny mixture of feelings those old recordings arouse in me that make me want to say it. A love for Christmas, when it's time "to glory the new born king" (as the verse of a song says); and a love for America, where I became a man; and, who knows, perhaps a love for old times. When Hollywood made the movies I grew up loving, like the talkies in black and white of the Thirties and Forties.

A teacher of mine, Will Herberg, wrote a book entitled Protestant Catholic and Jew, describing the making of America as a land of immigration. By way of this, America has been able to turn herself mythical: allowing a storytelling drawing its ethos from the biblical story of Exodus, capable of a universal message I learned to appreciate even before my stay in the USA.

That's why those old recordings fill me with a vague sense of nostalgia and hope: that America may keep that mythical sense of herself alive, against the temptation to imitate Europe, where it has been lost.


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